FABULOUS OPENING DAY AT THE GRAND NATIONAL MEETING: Just what chance do the Irish have of giving the English a Cheltenham-style drubbing? What’s hot and what’s not on the opening day at Aintree? What’s the nap and what the happy-daze outsider? Daqman analyses each race and finds the McFabulous and the McManus tips plus the outsider with the fancy name.
🔹 IRISH PROBABLES RACE BY RACE
🔹 McMANUS BUYS THE BONUS HORSE
🔹 ONLY FIVE WILL FACE MONMIRAL
🔹 I’VE LOST HEART OVER TIGER ROLL
🔹 McFABULOUS HAS PLENTY OF BOOT
🔹 I’VE STUMBLED ONTO A STOWAWAY
🔹 SAM HAS A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
🔹 TAKING THE 20.0 BEFORE IT’S GONE
NATIONAL UPDATE 1: STORYTELLER OUT: BLAKLION IN: The Storyteller this morning dropped out of Saturday’s Grand National, making way for Blaklion to get into the race. The remaining reserves are headed by Some Neck and Secret Reprieve, hoping for more withdrawals at 1pm tomorrow.
NATIONAL UPDATE 2: BRYONY CHALLENGE TO RACHAEL: Bryony Frost joins Rachael Blackmore (Minella Times) in the Grand National line-up: she will partner Yala Enki for Paul Nicholls, who puts Harry Cobden up on Give Me A Copper. Champion-jockey Brian Hughes rides Lake View Lad. Robbie Power keeps the mount on 2019 runner-up Magic Of Light
IRISH PROBABLES RACE BY RACE
It’s just a reprieve. The big pots of the Grand National meeting were heading for Ireland this year but most may remain on English mantelshelves because of home dominance on numbers.
This year’s Cheltenham rout 23-5 can hardly happen at Aintree this week (famous last words) but the last time the meeting was held there was a huge turnaround in favour of Ireland’s raiding party.
In the previous decade, 80 winners had been chalked up by the top five English trainers at the meeting, with just 14 for the top two Irish, Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, who had the only Irish stables in the top 13.
The 10-year scoreboard going into the 2019 meeting was: Nicky Henderson (34), Paul Nicholls (20), Alan King (14), Colin Tizzard (12), Nigel Twiston-Davies (9), Willie Mullins (8), Gordon Elliott (6), Tom George (6), Philip Hobbs (6), Jonjo O’Neill (6), Peter Bowen (5), Donald McCain (5) and David Pipe (5).
What happened? The 2019 winners (England 11, Ireland 10) reversed the usual trend with the home team ousted from the top two places on the podium with, in the three days: Gordon Elliott 4, Willie Mullins 3, Henry De Bromhead 2, Nicky Henderson 2, Colin Tizzard 2.
Even though the Irish are not strongly represented numerically this week, those same top three stables from Ireland are here, albeit Gordon Elliott is aka Denise Foster. Check out the glitterati of the Emerald Isle from these probables:
🇮🇪 Daqman’s forecast: five Irish winners.
TODAY: declared (79 English; 11 Irish)
1.45 Aintree The Shunter
2.50 Aintree Militarian, Tiger Roll
3.25 Aintree Abacadabras, Jason The Militant,
4.05 Aintree Billaway, Rewritetherules, Some Man
4.40 Aintree Moon Over Germany, Jan Maat.
5.15 Aintree Me Too Please
TOMORROW Irish probables
1.45 Aintree Tronador
2.20 Aintree Belfast Banter
3.25 Aintree Fakir d’Oudairies, Notebook
4.05 Aintree Robin Des Foret, Livelovelaugh, Visioman, Snugsborough Hall, Dumvegan.
4.40 Aintree Cape Gentleman, Streets Of Doyen
5.15 Aintree Bold Enough
SATURDAY Irish probables
1.45 Aintree Whirling Dervish
2.25 Aintree Ballyadam, Cape Gentleman, Dreal Deal, The Shunter
3.35 Aintree Beacon Edge, Decor Irlandais, Diol Ker, Sire Du Berlais
6.20 Aintree Charlie’s Glance, The Gossiper,
5.15 Aintree (Grand National) The Storyteller, Chris’s Dream, Burrows Saint, Magic Of Light, Acapella Bourgeois, Tout Est Permis, Anibale Fly, Any Second Now, Balko des Flos, Alpha des Obeaux, Shattered Love, Jett, Class Conti, Milan Native, Discorama, Cabaret Queen, The Long Mile, Farclas, Minella Times, Some Neck (reserve).
McMANUS BUYS THE BONUS HORSE
⭕ 1.45 Aintree (Manifesto Novices Chase). Six-year-olds dominate; not since Wishfull Thinking (2011) has the winner been an old-timer by novice standards.
The Shunter, sole Irish raider, and 4.4 on BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE this morning, is the same age – eight – and has to step up two grades from his Greatwood (November) and Plate (March festival) double at Cheltenham which landed him a £100,000 bonus.
But that did not deter J P McManus from doing a deal for the horse last night to stay in the stable of Emmet Mullins, who is 4-6 in England this season.
The Shunter’s completing the hat-trick today would boost the Grand National chances of Farclas, who was runner-up in the Plate.
Fusil Raffles is the right age and Nicky Henderson, who has won the Manifesto three times, seems back to form, finishing up the Easter meetings with 2-3.
Thanks to the good ground, Hitman looked very comfortable in winning the Jacky Upton Trophy at Newbury. That and his Grade-1 second to Allmankind before Christmas has him officially just 4lb behind Fusil Raffles.
Colin Tizzard still seems in the doldrums but Eldorado Allen could be the surprise packet if he’s 100% for the race. He has twice been run over by Shishkin at the minimum trip.
But he is related to stamina-charged individuals such as banks winner Auvergnat and I’d promised myself a pound on him as soon as he stepped up in trip.
Short shot: The Shunter
Betdaq value 8.4 Eldorado Allen
ONLY FIVE WILL FACE MONMIRAL
⭕ 2.20 Aintree (Juvenile Hurdle) Nicky Henderson is looking for a hat-trick but his Paros is 12lb behind in the ratings, despite taking the Scottish equivalent at Musselburgh 13 days back.
Slick-jumping Fiveandtwenty missed that race (though she’d won the trial at Musselburgh in February) and had also swerved Cheltenham because connections so want to win with their filly at Aintree.
Her 7lb allowance still has her behind Grade-2 winner Monmiral, who was impressive at Haydock in February.
Monmiral is officially rated alongside Adagio (both on 147) but a line through Nassalam, runner-up to both, has Monmiral 5lb clear of the five other runners.
Short shot: Monmiral
Betdaq value 14.5 Fiveandtwenty
I’VE LOST HEART OVER TIGER ROLL
⭕ 2.50 Aintree (Bowl) Tiger Roll is not running for his public any more. In fact, he wasn’t doing much running at all (0PU) over the winter, his brilliance so left in abeyance by the bitter debate about his Aintree weight that I thought he had ‘gone.’
But the handicapper was not amused. That OPU ‘form’ did nothing at all for his National standing – or his international reputation – and his more recent runaway win round the Cheltenham cross-country course means that he needs more OPU to combine with his age if connections are to beg leniency for his 2022 Grand National mark when he is 12.
Today will not help his weight if he wins, nor help any reputations if he loses. He is no longer the people’s horse, and now has no chance of ‘doing a Red Rum,’ having missed out on two Nationals that might have given him the treble.
I shall content myself with a pound on a horse and connections that never give up trying (12 times out of 13 in the first four).
Clondaw Castle is much loved and respected, likes the ground and has no pretensions to fame and glory, though might have it thrust upon him.
Betdaq value 8.0 Clondaw Castle
McFABULOUS HAS PLENTY OF BOOT
⭕ 3.25 Aintree (Hurdle) SIX horses in this have the same rating. You could play Russian roulette instead of picking blind from the six but, be warned, there are only five rounds in a six-shooter.
Before you delve deep into the form of The Six, let me tell you that Silver Streak has top marks, a rating of 163 over their 158 each.
He beat former champion Epatante at Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle before that one ran third to Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle.
Will he get today’s extra half-mile? He has a penchant for a Flat track and good ground will be helpful.
The Irish have a big chance with Jason The Militant (BETDAQ 4.6), who is expected to have improved past his Morgiana conqueror, the quirky Abacadabras.
You have to listen to a man (Henry De Bromhead) who won the three major trophies at Cheltenham but swerved it with this one, preferring him to go up in trip today.
McFabulous swerved Cheltenham for this, Paul Nicholls reckoning him ‘not short of the boot’ required to win here. But Brewin’upastorm should make a race of it with McFabulous, whom he beat in the National Spirit at Fontwell after that one made a costly error.
McFabulous is unlikely to make that mistake at Aintree. He and one-time champion Buveur d’Air are the only course winners in the race.
Short shot Jason The Militant
Betdaq value 7.6 McFabulous
I’VE STUMBLED ONTO A STOWAWAY
⭕ 4.05 Aintree (Foxhunters) The 28 runners usually jump these Grand National fences well enough but not many have the lungs to get round. Last year: 12 finished and 12 pulled up! No fallers but three unseated rider.
You need one that’s jumped these fences before or one who’s run well in the similar race or in the cross-country at the Cheltenham festival.
Billaway and Latenightpass were second and fourth in the new open hunters at Cheltenham Some Man may exhaust his possibilities (literally) out in front and, in any case, is held by Billaway.
Some Man is just eight years old and Cat Tiger, progressive for David Maxwell, is only seven.
In fact, all I’ve mentioned so far are ruled out by the stats: every one of the winners of this in the decade were of double-figure age.
Those old boys with stout hearts and strong form include Sametegal, Federici, Kilaro Boy, Mighty Stowaway (sixth, stumbled, at Cheltenham) and Dashing Perk.
Short shot Billaway
Betdaq value 6.0 Sametegal, 15.0 Mighty Stowaway
SAM HAS A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
⭕ 4.40 Aintree (Red Rum Chase) Only one winner in the decade has carried more than 11st 1lb and only one favourite has won.
Gamble of the race has been Sully D’Oc AA, who ran some excellent trials for this behind Clondaw Castle at Newbury and The Shunter at Cheltenham when he was spotted going really well at this stage of the race.
Grey Diamond’s trainer Sam Thomas is in terrific form, and the seven-year-old summarily dealt with Dostal Phil at Sandown on good ground.
Betdaq value Grey Diamond 9.0, Sully Doc Aa 14.0
Lays Logic Destrier is living off his third in the Magull here two years ago, and defeats totalling 130 lengths in his last five starts suggest that his slide in the handicap is warranted.
Getaway Trump’s 12lb ‘tonk’ for scoring at Doncaster puts him in Graded class but not a handicap.
TAKING THE 20.0 BEFORE IT’S GONE
⭕ 5.15 Aintree (Hurdle Mares’ NH Flat race) EIGHT unbeaten or which have won two, and we know so little about them.
I usually swerve these ‘races,’ but I’ll be giving awards to those who named Eileendover (just had to be by Canford Cliffs) and Wheres Maud Gone (brilliantly conceived, by Yeats).
Short shot Eileendover
Betdaq value 20.0 Where’s Maud Gone
1.45 Aintree (win 20, win 10)
BET 2.75pts win ELDORADO ALLEN
BET 3.3pts win THE SHUNTER
2.20 Aintree (win 12)
BET 10pts win MONMIRAL (nap)
BET 1pt win FIVEANDTWENTY
2.50 Aintree (win 12)
BET 1.75pts win CLONDAW CASTLE
3.25 Aintree (win 30, win 10)
BET 4.75pts win McFABULOUS
BET 3.25pts win JASON THE MILITANT
4.05 Aintree (win 20)
BET 4pts win SAMETEGAL
BET 1.4pts win MIGHTY STOWAWAY
4.40 Aintree (win 30)
BET 3.75pts win GREY DIAMOND
BET 2.25pts win SULLY DOC AA
5.15 Aintree (win 20, place 10)
BET 1pt win, 2pts place WHERE’S MAUD GONE
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